Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Self-Confidence


Some of the most meaningful books I have read were "adolescent literature." I read everything by Madeline L'Engle (and still love all of her books, those written for children and adults alike) and basically everything on the shelves of the YA section of our local library that made it past my parents' scrutiny. I don't remember many of the titles now, but I do remember that the ones I loved were always about young women overcoming their insecurities.

In high school I had bangs. In ninth grade, they were all half poofed up and half curled under, the bang fashion of 1989. In tenth grade, I began wearing them simply curled under, likely a reflection of trends, but somehow more my own. And then, when I was a junior in high school, I began growing my bangs out. This was probably also becoming fashionable, what with the whole grunge thing, but I felt that my self-confidence was growing with my bangs.

I just got bangs for the first time since high school. And I have been feeling really insecure about them, and about other things. And, too, I have been trying to write a short story about a high school girl. So this all has me thinking about self-confidence in general, and my self-confidence in particular.

I was very awkward and self-conscious in junior high and early high school. This probably was at its worst during eighth and ninth grades. There are many obvious explanations. I gained thirty pounds at the onset of puberty. I moved from my small parochial school to a large public school in junior high. And, really, the most obvious explanation of all is that I hit the age when I needed to separate myself in a major way from my parents. It is hard to create a new identity for yourself.

And when I think about the points in my life when I was the most self assured, they are the times that I was happy with what I was doing, busy and filled with purpose. During my last few years of college, I really hit my stride: I was excelling in an English program, about to be married, loving my job as in a coffee shop and living within walking distance from my church. Graduate school shook me up a bit, but then, living in Chicago, I seemed to hit a good stride again: I was a dorm head surrounded by fun and interesting people who looked to me for advice; I taught in an adult education program where I really made a difference in people's lives; I lived near many people parenting in the ways that I want to, always ready to offer me advice, inspiration, and company. Oh, and I also gave birth to two children without drugs--one at home--and ran a marathon and a half marathon.

So anyway, lately I guess I don't feel so useful and accomplished, so obviously sure that I am making a difference in peoples' lives. Like I said, I have bangs. I have gained a little weight. I am a full time stay at home mom for the very first time. I don't really have any friends here yet, at least not close friends or kindred spirits. But, mainly, I think there is this: I am again trying to create a new identity for myself. Stay at home mom. Writer. Mother in a community where I often don't fit in.

But some days I feel like it just might work. My bangs are growing out a bit and looking better. I'm falling into a good routine with the boys. I'm making it to the gym, noticing moms who use cloth diapers, and making progress on that short story, the one where the young woman faces her insecurities.



10 comments:

alaskapeter said...

I think the bangs are FAAAB-ulous!

Beck said...

Is that you? You're GORGEOUS! SO young!

Anonymous said...

I like them, too. I am experimenting with spray or gel-type products on mine and like how they look. You are beautiful inside and out. Love, Mom

Jenny said...

Dear Ser,

You are a totally beautiful and true person. I admire your courage to face everything honestly, without fear, but also with humor. All this comes through your writing and blesses me, again and again.

Ser said...

Yes, this is me, Beck. I look young only because you can't see my ever-increasing wrinkles.

Does everyone like the awesome styling in this photo? In a postmodern move, I posed by the trash can, stove, and empty cardboard box. Henry was my photographer.

Dove Knits said...

No, Ser, you look young because you ARE.

If you ever write that story, I'd love to read it. I'm sometimes still in adolescent-insecurity phase!

Julia said...

The topic of bangs really presses the buttons of insecurity and awkwardness going back to my own adolesence. I was never able to have them when they were in the height of fashion and felt so left out. You look great in this picture-- so fresh-faced and glowing. I love reading about this kind of thing too and hope you write more like it.

so yung said...

it's a good picture! the benefits of bangs as one ages? they fringe helps hide the forehead wrinkles.

Anonymous said...

It is heartening to hear that even gorgeous, talented and genuinely "strong" women have insecurities. It makes the rest of us feel better able to cope I think.

Bethany Torode said...

You look like a teenager. Fresh is definitely the word. So lovely! I love bangs, and they work great on you.